Hair grows in cycles. Riquette Hofstein, author of the book ''Grow Hair Fast'' notes that 90 percent of scalp hair grows at a rate of approximately a half-inch per month, alternating with periods of inactivity. A typical healthy hair loss is 80 to 100 hairs per day. When significantly more hair is lost in a day, Hofstein notes that something in the growth cycle has gone wrong and suggests that vitamins can help.
Stress can induce hair loss, notes the Mayo Clinic Online Health Library. A stressful time or situation in a person's life can cause hairs to stay in the inactive phase longer. Overtime, the prolonged inactivity will cause the those hairs to die and the hair appear thinned. Hofstein notes that B vitamins can be helpful. B vitamins are used in breaking down food for energy, maintenance of the nervous system and stress management. Hofstein recommends that all of the B vitamins be taken together as a complex, but she particularly emphasizes biotin, PABA, choline, inositol and vitamin B5. Foods that are high in these vitamins include dark leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, whole grains and legumes, eggs, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and citrus fruits.
Vitamins C and E
Since the 1700's, vitamin C has been noted for its effect in treating diseases of collagen formation. Collagen is the protein structure common to blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, bones, skin, hair and nails. It provides these tissues with strength, flexibility and durability. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University notes that vitamin C also assists with the production of stress hormones by the adrenal gland. For both of these reasons vitamin C is considered a potent hair nutrient. It can decrease the effects stress has on the hair, while helping to produce hair shafts that are strong, durable and receive good circulation. Hofstein recommends eating vitamin C-rich foods, like dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and bell peppers, but notes that 500 to 3000 mg in a time-release formula could be helpful for growth. Futhermore, vitamin E assists with providing good circulation to the hair follicles. It is suggested in the form of wheat germ oil or by taking 400 to 800 IU of natural vitamin E in a supplement form.
Protein is the predominant component of the hair shaft. Proteins are made of combinations of amino acids put together. Hair is 97 percent protein and the amino acid, cysteine comprises 8 percent of this total. Fad and starvation diets as well as outright malnutrition can deprive the body of good protein sources and possibly lead to hair loss. However, in addition to a healthy diet the addition of L-cysteine in the forms of foods and supplements can help hair grow, notes Hofstein. Great food sources include apples, beets, brussel sprouts, hazelnuts, filbert nuts and pineapples. In supplement form, 500 mg of L-cysteine can help hair grow, but must be accompanied by 1500 to 3000 mg of vitamin C per day.
Topical vitamin D has been used to prevent certain types of chemotherapy-induced hair loss as well as treat scalp psoriasis. According to the 2010 Dermatology Online Journal, ''Does D Matter?'' both of these conditions are due to abnormalities or alterations of the hair growth cycle. While the use of active vitamin D, or D3 use in hair growth requires further study, the fact that vitamin D deficiencies are linked to so many other conditions suggests that daily intakes need to be met. People at risk for a vitamin D deficiency include those with limited sun exposure, darker skin, older adults, the obese or those who have had gastric bypass surgery.
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